The Sea, the Sea

The Sea, the Sea

Paperback Vintage Classics

By (author) Iris Murdoch, Introduction by John Burnside

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  • Publisher: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback | 560 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 38mm | 381g
  • Publication date: 1 August 1999
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 009928409X
  • ISBN 13: 9780099284093
  • Sales rank: 20,283

Product description

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOHN BURNSIDE When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage. His equilibrium is further disturbed when his friends all decide to come and keep him company and Charles finds his seaside idyll severely threatened by his obsessions.

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Author information

Iris Murdoch was a writer and philosopher. She was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. She went to school in Bristol, and read classics at Somerville College, Oxford. She later became a fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. She died in February 1999. Her husband John Bayley has written a bestselling memoir of his life with her called Iris and a major film based on this was released in 2001.

Review quote

"Dazzlingly entertaining and inventive" The Times "One of the most ambitious tours de force in many years... There are pages one races through to see what happens. She is a virtuoso at description" Daily Mail "She was a brilliantly clever woman" -- Dame Judi Dench "There is no doubt in my mind that Iris Murdoch is one of the most important novelists now writing in English...The power of her imaginative vision, her intelligence and her awareness and revelation of human truth are quite remarkable" The Times "A fabulous novel...funny and poignant and is arguably Murdoch's finest hour" -- Gary Kemp Daily Express

Editorial reviews

"There is a faint smell of fire and brimstone when something of the past comes tearing to the surface vivid and complete." So says 60-ish Charles - famed theater personality, an egotist who gives exquisite attention to life's small pleasures, and somewhat of a stinker - who is now a recluse in a curious old house on a wild English promontory breasting the sea. But obscenely arising from Charles' clean sea is a sea monster (an LSD trip rerun?), and there are other spectral matters hinting of demons abroad, as Charles ruminates his past, from a childhood Eden wriggling with jealousies and envy to an adulthood dotted incidentally with women. The older woman he did really love, now dead, partner in shuttlecock rounds of rows and reunions. Ferocious Rosina, whom Charles levered away from her husband, then refused to marry. And slavish Lizzie, always the good little girl for the asking. These women, among others, Charles niched in order of utility. But one relationship was on a different, pure plane. Hartley, ah Hartley, "My first love and. . . my only love. . . my end and my beginning." Hartley, when they were both young, refused Charles to marry another - and disappeared. Now, 40 years later, when Charles' world is about to quake, Hartley reappears, "a stout, elderly woman. . . holding a shopping bag." Charles, repossessed by a love that is "absolute," sets out to shake Hartley from her husband in their tea-cosy cottage, with feverish avowals and labyrinthine scheming. Hartley sobs and rages within this vise of adoration, and a motley crew of Charles' "friends" attempts to head off Charles' manic pursuit. But there's a wind change as a young man is drowned, and Rosina's ex-husband makes an admirably forthright attempt to dispatch Charles. Then storms subside in criss-cross ripples of new unions and new bafflements. Although the metaphysical games can snarl a bit, this bright play with the demons that we unleash on one another is entertainment both sly and tantalizing. (Kirkus Reviews)